If you were faced with the choice of paying your utility bill to keep the lights on, buying medicine for your chronic illness or buying food to feed your live-in grandchildren, what would you choose? April is Senior Hunger Awareness Month – a time to raise awareness about the unique challenges of senior food insecurity and the ways individuals and communities can help older adults access the food they need to live a healthy life.

“My mother had never thought she would have to go from giving to the community to having to depend upon something like this program,” stated Mary Medci, regarding her 78-year-old mother – a participant in the Food Bank’s Senior Grocery Program. Mary has been assigned her mother’s pick-up representative from our monthly food distribution. “We both have a limited budget, but we have to try and find the fruits and vegetables she needs for her special diet,” stated Mary.

Many low-income seniors face spending tradeoffs that can lead to or worsen food insecurity such as utilities, transportation, housing and/or health related costs like medicine. In Feeding America’s most recent study citing 2018 data, ‘The State of Senior Hunger,’ Louisiana is within the top three states with the highest rate of senior hunger. Now, in conjunction with the harsh economy and current pandemic, some seniors are finding themselves in need of assistance for the first time in their lives.

Our Senior Grocery Program is meant to improve the life of seniors with limited incomes by allowing them to stretch their budget. The program provides basic, shelf-stable food once a month to qualified at-risk seniors. The food box is made up of donated items including breakfast foods, assorted canned and dry goods and fresh produce when available. The Food Bank services two locations for our Senior Grocery Program with over 400 households receiving these supplemental packages to allow them to stretch their limited budget for other necessities of life.

In addition, we must remember older adults (ages 50-59) also face unique challenges as they may begin to experience economic and health complications that can be associated with aging, while being too young to benefit from support services available to seniors. You can help seniors and older adults have access to the food they need by donating online or calling 225.359.9940 to donate over the phone. Remember, just $1 could provide the food equivalent to three meals for food insecure seniors in our community.